Every time a new IKEA store opens in India, you immediately know about it because netizens can’t help discussing it. Known for its budget furniture and home essentials, IKEA has become a favorite with consumers. If you’ve purchased IKEA furniture, then you know that assembling it is the best part of the process!

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you’re required to focus on the process to assemble your furniture successfully. This prolonged period of paying attention and concentrating on a task is possible because of sustained attention. Let’s explore this concept in detail and see how it influences our daily lives.

Understanding The Sustained Attention Psychology

Attention continues to be a topic of interest in cognitive psychology. It’s how we process or prevent ourselves from processing information, perceptions and other environmental stimuli. In short, when we pay attention, we either focus on or tune out of things at that moment. 

Sustained attention helps focus on something for a prolonged period. It helps us concentrate on relevant information while avoiding distractions or irrelevant information.

Here are some everyday examples of sustained attention to show you how often we use it:

  1. Lectures and webinars can get boring when you lose focus. Sustained attention helps you focus and follow what the speaker is saying. Of course, there is a limit to paying attention but through sustained attention, you’re able to concentrate for a good amount of time.

  1. Driving is another activity that requires sustained attention. Not only are you able to keep your eyes on the road for long durations, but you’re also aware of your surroundings and other cars on the road.

The scope and definition of sustained attention aren’t limited to personal experiences. Our professional lives benefit from it as well. Here are some examples of sustained attention at the workplace:

  • Focusing on projects and meeting project deadlines because you work for long hours, thanks to sustained attention.

  • The remedy to never-ending business meetings is sustained attention! You’re able to focus and make notes (or minutes) as you tune out other distractions.

Mastering The Sustained Attention Psychology

Contrary to popular belief, sustained attention isn’t something people are born with. People switch between various types of attention, depending on the situation they’re in. You can learn how to develop sustained attention through patience and practice. Here are some sustained attention activities that’ll improve your focus and concentration for a longer duration:

  1. Meditate

One of the best ways to improve attention is by exercising your mind. Dedicate at least 10-20 minutes in a day to mindful meditation where you observe your physical and emotional sensations. For example, if you’re eating something, take time to enjoy the fragrance, flavor and texture. Such exercises can help you pay attention to details.

  1. Exercise

Moderate physical exercise has several benefits for mental well-being. Not only does it act as a stress-buster, but is also instrumental in improving focus. It further helps to minimize distractions and enhance attention span. Take a brisk walk or go for a light jog regularly. You can also try out yoga or effective stretching exercises.

  1. Read

It’s difficult to develop and sustain a reading habit in this information age where perusing blurbs and summaries have become the norm. It’s time to fight the TL; DR (too long; didn’t read) culture and practice reading long texts. Pick a book and try to read as much as possible. If you aren’t interested in novels, try reading long-form articles online. Reading enhances your power of concentration and increases your ability to stay with an idea for a longer time.

  1. Ask Questions

Asking questions not only helps you stay interested but also teaches you something new. The next time you’re in a meeting or lecture, find opportunities to pose questions to the speaker. They may dedicate a part of their session to answering questions so utilize the opportunity. Remember to ask constructive and open-ended questions.

  1. Chew Gum

This may sound bizarre but chewing gum actually helps improve concentration. Studies show that the activity increases your alertness, thereby improving your attention power. Chewing gum activates certain parts of the mind and boosts mental performance.

These sustained attention activities are only effective when you’re fully aware of your environment. One effective way to get started is to focus on your interpersonal relationships by being an attentive listener. The ability to be fully present for someone not only builds rapport but lays the foundation of a trustworthy relationship.

Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course will teach you how to overcome the barriers to listening. The section on the EAR (Empathy, Authenticity and Respect) of Listening will teach you the three key qualities of active listening. The HARP (Hearing, Attention, Response and Perception) Equation section will help you pay close attention and ask appropriate questions. Pay attention to details and see how your concentration power improves!

Explore topics such as Types of Attention, How to Improve Your Attention SpanActive Listening, What Is Selective Attention & Divided Attention from Harappa Diaries and learn to effectively perceive, respond and interact with others.

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